Friday, January 21, 2011
A Year in the Life - Crocosmia 'Orangeade'
Before I moved to Portland, I had never seen a Crocosmia, except on TV and in gardening books. At first, it seemed the only variety I ever saw was the bright red 'Lucifer'. Not being a big fan of bright red, I sort of wrote off all Crocosmias for a while. The more I explored other gardens around our neighborhood, however, the more varieties I discovered. There were lots of red ones, true, but there were also sunny yellows and glowing oranges, along with many combinations thereof. I suddenly had the feeling that somewhere out there, there might be a Crocosmia for me! As it turned out, I got this one, 'Orangeade' at Joy Creek Nursery...one of my favorite nurseries and home to many plants I've adopted over the past year or so :-) I like to think of 'Orangeade' as 'Lucifer's younger, hotter, funnier cousin :-)
In my garden, this Crocosmia seems to emerge at about the same time as other perennials...late February to early March. You can't miss the foliage, as it looks much like Iris foliage (to which it is related), but is slightly pleated.
Around the middle of July, 'Orangeade' starts to send up its little wands of flower spikes. this is actually my favorite stage in the plants growth. I love the little serpentine spikes, which reflex a bit, looking like little cobras. They are also vibrantly colored, as you can see above, with purple, orange and yellow.
'Orangeade' seems to begin flowering during the latter part of July. Although I often shy away from such brighly-colored flowers, I couldn't resist these. The interiors of the blossoms are more yellowish, but the reverse is a warm orange, giving the flowers a delicious multi-toned effect.
Crocosmia are happily well-mannered enough to be self-cleaning, all the flowers drop off on their own after blooming. After the last of the blooms has faded, you are left with the ripening seed heads, which continue to provide a delightful architectural element to the garden. As you can see in the picture above, the curving, wavy wands of seed heads give a wonderful, textural quality.
So there you have it, Crocosmia 'Orangeade'. A hardy perennial related to the Iris, but growing from corms instead of rhizomes. Hardy to about zone 5 (unless I'm mistaken). In my garden, it seems to get between 2' - 2 1/2' tall. I've found this one to be extremely vigorous, floriferous and resistant to pests and disease. Give them a try...you won't be disappointed! What about you...do you have a favorite Crocosmia, do you even like them...do you have horror stories of them rampaging through your garden?